Posts Tagged ‘Appearances’

San Diego and More

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Last week’s update was strictly pics from San Diego Con, and this time – along with some news and reviews – I will report in prose.

The highlight for me was the interview with my buddy Andrew Sumner, an exec at Titan; he and I did a Spillane two-man panel at SDCC last year and this time we focused on the upcoming release of the first of five Ms. Tree collections: One Mean Mother.


Andrew Sumner and M.A.C.

Jamie Coville posted the audio of our panel, a link to which you can find among the rest of his SDCC interviews – as of this writing, it’s the fourth entry down and you can download the audio by right-clicking the link once you navigate to this page.

A signing at the Titan booth – we had copies of Quarry’s War and the Mike Hammer graphic novel, plus free Ms. Tree art cards that I autographed – went very well. Got to talk to lots of smart fans – definition of “smart”: they like my work.

Jonathan Maberry did a great job, taking over for me as president of the International Association of Movie and Tie-in Writers, presenting the Scribe awards and helming a very good panel of mostly nominees. I did not win for Killing Town in the general fiction category, but did not expect to.

Otherwise, I have to admit that I find SDCC increasingly unpleasant and anything but user friendly. Part of this is my age, both in terms of physical tiredness and an absence of material of interest to me (Bud Plant, wherefore art thou?). Additionally, with this the 50th anniversary of the biggest con in pop culture, no particular fuss was in evidence. (The question I was most asked was, “Why isn’t Seduction of the Innocent playing?” And I have no answer.)

The aisles are hopelessly clogged, starting on preview night – in what I described to Barb as the world’s slowest moving stampede. Barb, doing an absent Nate’s bidding in search of inexplicably popular pins, had a series of increasingly harrowing, soul-destroying adventures in lines that were unfairly administered.

Here, in Barb’s words reporting back to Nate, are her experiences on Thursday, the official opening day of the con:

“We hit the Udon booth first thing for the other stuff you wanted, and there was no line…but they had sold out of the art book yesterday and won’t have any more. OMG, what a nightmare getting into the convention center at 9:30, a hundred thousand people – just crushing. And it didn’t let up once inside. I was plastered to a guy who worked at the Figpin booth, and he couldn’t get there. After hearing my tale of woe about trying to get a card, he pulled out the Ash pin from his pocket to shut me up.

I went to the Figpin line at 1:30 to mill around for the public 2 o’clock queue-up but there was already a line of a dozen, so I hopped on board. Then the staff tried to disperse us saying it was too early to be there, and when ignored, brought security over. We scattered like cockroaches, only to come back when they left. I was amazed at the camaraderie when we re-formed, “No, I was behind him, you were in front of her,” etc. We were locked in a war together!

After a while, the enemy gave up, and we settled in for the real battle. But then distressing news began filtering down from the front, “They’re out of Batman and the Joker!” Recon was sent out to confirm. “Yes, and Hercule, too!” And so it went. After an hour and a half, battle fatigue set in, some went AWOL, but the rest of the troop pressed forward into the breach! And when the dust settled, I got Thanos, and the last Gogeta.

One funny story – when I was exiting the booth, this girl was telling a Figpin employee HER tale of woe, which was that she had gotten inside before the others this morning, in a motorized wheelchair, and was zipping toward where Figpin was handing out the “golden ticket cards,” when, about three yards from her goal, the chair died, and she was stuck in the aisle, watching helplessly as the cards all disappeared. The thing is, she was saying this while STANDING, and stomped off in a huff when no comp card was given.”

All this culminated on Sunday with a near riot that had Barb shoved up against some garbage cans. Seemed a Figpin staffer just started tossing the precious cards (required to make a purchase) into the air like chum to sharks. Figpin, perhaps the prime offender, will be lucky not to be sued. A company called Bait also rates a “boo,” as Nate put it.

This seems to me to be no fun, no matter what your age. Yes, it’s entertaining to see the cosplay – my favorite was Jason from Friday the 13th dragging a body behind him – but belligerent guards, rude people and impossible-to-get-into panels featuring your favorite stars add up to a popular culture nightmare.

It’s unlikely I’ll be back…but that was what I said last year.

* * *

My partner in Eliot Ness crime, A. Brad Schwartz, attended a different convention of sorts in Coudersport, PA’s annual Eliot Ness fest. Read about it (and see him!) here.

I completed my pass of the second Ness non-fiction book, The Untouchable and the Butcher, and just recently yesterday the third pass, which is primarily tweaking and catching typos and so on. Barb enters these for me, in most cases. This was a big job – the manuscript runs around 550 manuscript pages, and does not include Brad’s bibliographic end notes. I still have to assemble the chapter files into one big file of the whole book.

We did this in the midst of a major event – the move to Muscatine from the St. Louis area of Nathan, his wife Abby and our two grandchildren, Sam, almost four, Lucy, ten months. They will be living up the street just seven houses away, and it will be wonderful. Right now it isn’t – we are all struggling to maintain controlled chaos. More about this later.

* * *

A few TV notes.

Much on the streaming services has yet to capture my attention. But three series already very much on my radar have delivered excellent seasons that are worth your time, whether you munch on them or binge.

The fifth season of Schitt’s Creek continues to astound with its unique combination of deepening characterization and off-the-wall humor. Netflix has it, and if you’ve not watched this offspring of SCTV starring Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy (the latter’s son Daniel is a co-star and co-creator with his dad, and a genius), you need to drop everything and start. And it only gets better and better. For me, a particular pleasure is watching Chris Elliott bump his gonzo comedy style up against the Second City-trained cast members, creating a comic tension that provides the laughs with a special subtext.

Stranger Things has a third season that is broader than the first two but similarly satisfying. The central location, an ‘80s mall, provides a nostalgic backdrop that provided me with unexpected pangs – who knew I actually missed Sam Goody and B. Dalton? The storytelling is first-rate as the cast members are divided into groups for excellent back-and-forth narrative with tiny cliffhangers to hold you from scene to scene, and of course larger ones to keep you bingeing. Millie Bobby Brown continues to be a remarkable young actress, exploring this dangerously powerful girl’s entry into the teen years with poignance and possibilities. The creators, the Duffer brothers, have also found a way to avoid (this time anyway) the pitfalls of a character who can easily swoop in to save the day.

Finally, Veronica Mars roars in with an unexpected fourth season. I have not hidden my admiration for Kristen Bell (not even from my wife) and she outdoes herself here, bringing layers to her characterization with every pause and glance. This twisty mystery is hard to discuss without spoiler warnings, so I’ll say only that the season seems to be dealing with the need to move on from Neptune, California, and Veronica’s teenage years (the character is pointedly described as being in her late thirties) into adulthood and the maturity of a classic detective. Creator Rob Thomas clearly wants Veronica to join the ranks of Marlowe, Hammer, Nero & Archie, and other noir-ish detectives. I would caution him only that to abandon Enrico Colantoni’s Keith Mars, and the hilarious yet warm verbal interplay between father and daughter, would be to lose the heart and soul of the show. My favorite moment in the season has Veronica telling her father how irritated she is that her longtime lover Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) has asked her to marry him. Keith’s droll low-key reply: “What an asshole.”

* * *

Check out this fantastic Leonard Maltin review of Scarface and the Untouchable.

Jude Law’s role is number six on this list of his best screen performances.

M.A.C.

My San Diego Comic-Con Schedule

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
THURSDAY 18th JULY
PANEL: The Hardboiled Return of Ms. Tree!
Time: 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Room: 26AB
Guests: Max Allan Collins, Andrew Sumner (host)

Titan Entertainment’s Andrew Sumner sits down with author/screenwriter/director/comic-book writer Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Dick Tracy) to discuss his and artist Terry Beatty’s iconic, ahead-of-her-time hardboiled comics detective Ms. Michael Tree. Originally debuting in Eclipse Comics’ Eclipse Magazine in 1981, Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint is now collecting five pulse-pounding Collins & Beatty continuities in Ms Tree: One Mean Mother and Max is here to spill the beans about his two-fisted heroine!

FRIDAY 19th JULY
11AM-12PM – Hard Case Crime with Max Allan Collins
Special Hard Case Crime comic event! Max Allan Collins will be signing an SDCC exclusive art card, featuring Ms. Tree, the upcoming graphic novel collection which launches this Fall. Plus Max will be signing copies of Mike Hammer, the tough-talking, brawling, skirt-chasing private detective who returned to comics in this thrilling noir graphic novel, The Night I Died, based on an original plot by Mickey Spillane, as well as his graphic novel Quarry’s War.

PANEL: The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers: Scribe Awards
TIME: 2:00p.m. – 3:00p.m
Room: 32AB
Jonathan Maberry (X-Files) will host this year’s Scribe Awards for excellence in tie-in writing, including honoring this year’s Grandmaster Award “Faust” winner, Nancy Holder (who will also join the panel). Other panelists include Matt Forbeck (The Marvel Encyclopedia, Halo: Bad Blood), Michael Kogge (The Last Jedi: A Junior Novel), Chris Ryall (comic book writer, Publisher at IDW), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Mike Hammer); David Boop (Predator, Veronica Mars).


Paperback:
ComiXology Digital Comic:

Those are the facts, but here a few more. I am nominated for a Scribe for best general original novel (meaning not a novelization and not science-fiction) for Killing Town, though I do not expect to win. This marks the first Scribe awards panel since I stepped down as president and handed the reins over to Jonathan Maberry, who is a dynamo. As you may know, Lee Goldberg and I co-founded the Tie-in Writers association a long time ago and we are both still members, but no longer running things (no coup – we were just tired).

For those interested in such things, I’ll have a few originals from Ms. Tree and Mike Danger for sale reasonably. Hey, it’s an expensive trip.

I was not planning to attend the con this year – actually, never really planned to attend again, as it has gotten bigger and I am, what’s the word, older. But when the opportunity came along to have a panel starring me about Ms. Tree finally getting collected in book form, I had to say yes. The entire run (except for a few odds and ends) will be collected in five fat volumes.

This is a little weird for me, as I had said goodbye to the con last year, and here I am getting drawn back in, like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3. It will require pacing myself, including naps. Sad, but true.

* * *

This incredible review of Last Stage to Hell Junction, by the fine western writer James Reasoner, is so good, it makes me want to read the damn book!

Girl Most Likely is $1.99 on Kindle right now ($7.98 for an actual book). And it’s #8 on Amazon’s Mystery Bestsellers list, #12 on their Women Sleuths Bestseller List (both Kindle and real book), and #17 on their Police Procedural Bestsellers Kindle list.

Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother is one of the best graphic novels of July, according to Barnes and Noble. (Scroll down.)

M.A.C.

Yesterday

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Yesterday, as I write this, Barb and I signed at the Davenport, Iowa, Barnes & Noble. The turnout was light (an air show was in progress), but those who came were great to talk with and they all bought books. In addition, the staff was warm and friendly and helpful. We were asked to sign all of the (considerable number of) books in stock, as a previous lightly attended signing was followed by us signing a ton of books, which went on an end-cap and sold out fairly quickly.

I knew that the B & N events person had ordered Girl Most Likely (and of course that chain does not regularly carry Thomas & Mercer books, because of the Amazon connection) and was disappointed when none were included on the huge display of M.A.C. and Barbara Allan books. I delicately inquired and learned they had indeed got in a good supply – but it sold out before the signing!

That was nice to hear.


M.A.C. with fan Clay Huffstutler

* * *

After the event, Barb and I took in a movie.

As you know, if you follow these updates, we almost always go to a movie every week. Lately what we’ve seen includes the unfortunate Men in Black: International, which wasted good leads Chris Hemsworth and Tess Thompson and demonstrated how an overage of CGI aliens could bore a jaded audience now (particularly when the aliens are poorly designed). Very good, however, was the Child’s Play reboot, which was funny and scary and everything you want a Chucky movie to be, assuming you want a Chucky movie at all (which both Barb and I do). Mark Hammil as the voice of Chucky is worth the price of admission.

Yesterday we saw Yesterday.

Again, regular readers of this weekly blog know that I am a movie buff. Over the sixty-some years of my moviegoing, I have amassed a considerable number of favorite films. Among these are Harvey, How to Succeed in Business, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo, Kiss Me Deadly, Gun Crazy, Chinatown and Groundhog Day, plus probably another dozen. It’s a fairly long list, but one I haven’t added anything to in some time. Maybe a couple of decades.

I added one yesterday – Yesterday.

You may be familiar with the premise, since this film has been talked about a lot, but actually you aren’t familiar with it, because it’s been inaccurately reported.

Everybody says it’s about a smalltime musician who gets hit by a bus and wakes up to find out everybody in the world has forgotten the Beatles. No. The lead is thrown by some world-wide electrical event into an alternate universe where the Beatles didn’t happen. Neither did Coke (the drink, not the drug) or cigarettes or Harry Potter, and, oh yes, the weekend comedy show Thursday Night Live is big. Everything else seems to be the same.

I’m not going to say much about this, except the filmmakers – writer Richard Curtis (co-creator of Blackadder and Mr. Bean) and director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) – are world-class. Take the ride they offer. Now, I have no idea how well this film will work on you if you were not born between, say, 1945 and 1960. But if you were, you probably have an affection for the Beatles, and an understanding of what they mean for our culture (not just popular culture), and this movie will likely work on you.

Of course not everyone in the Baby Boomer age group likes the Beatles. I remember my pal Ed Gorman, the great mystery writer, hated the Beatles and much, much preferred the Rolling Stones. That misses the point (although is typical Ed). In addition to writing an insanely diverse range of wonderful popular music, John, Paul, George and Ringo changed the world. Everybody from the Rolling Stones to Herman’s Hermits, from the Zombies to the Who, rode in on the wave they made.

If you are male and have ever worn long hair, the Beatles – not your barber or lack of one – did it.

There are lovely surprises in this film, and one took me so close to the edge of tears by the shock of it that I can remember no moment in any movie that hit me harder – not even in Vertigo or Chinatown. I will not spoil that moment for you by telling you what it is.

Also, Yesterday captures a lot of things about being a smalltime (or for that matter bigtime) musician that I’ve never seen in any other film – how the clueless parents are nailed is just dead on, for example, as is the experience of playing for small audiences who couldn’t care less.

So I’m not going to say much more, other than it’s also a lovely love story as well as having a ton of funny moments (the character Rocky rivals Ernest T. Bass in the comic relief department). Much hinges on the performance of Himesh Patel, who inhabits his character completely, taking his lucky predicament seriously, and sings and plays very well – when he brings out John Lennon’s original intentions for the song “Help!” as an anguished plea while still really rocking it is a fairly mindboggling ashievement.

Also, Lily James is supernaturally appealing here, even more so than in Baby Driver and The Darkest Hour. And in any other movie, Kathryn McKinnon’s screamingly funny performance as a venal show biz manager would have stolen the show. That she merely commands the scenes she’s in seems enough in this case.

Also you need to see the Criterion edition of I Wanna Hold Your Hand (another on my favorites list).

* * *

Crusin’ played at the Ice Cream Social for the Muscatine Art Center today (Sunday June 30) and the people were great but the weather was brutal. Barb pitched in and helped me with set up and tear down, but I now know that I’m very close to the end of this long and winding road of performing rock ‘n’ roll.

This year will be it – if we make an album, the current plan, we’ll do a farewell show next summer.

* * *

Here’s a very nice Girl Most Likely review.

And scroll down for a great Last Stage to Hell Junction review.

M.A.C.

Barbara Allan Signing

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Barb and I made a “Barbara Allan” appearance, promoting the new Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery Antiques Ravin’, on Paula Sands Live on KWQC-TV this past Monday.

We will be signing copies of the new book (and others, including Girl Most Likely, from 1 p.m. till 3 p.m. (or so) at Northpark Mall’s Barnes & Noble in Davenport, Iowa this Saturday, June 29.

M.A.C.